BACKGROUND: Traumatic anterior shoulder instability is a common clinical problem among athletic populations. The Latarjet procedure is a widely used treatment option to address shoulder instability in high-demand athletes at high risk of recurrence. However, rates and timing of full return to sports have not been systematically analyzed.
PURPOSE: To systematically review the evidence in the literature to ascertain the rate and timing of return to play and the availability of specific criteria for safe return to play after the Latarjet procedure.
STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review.
METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted based on PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, using the EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library databases. Eligible for inclusion were clinical studies reporting on return to play after the Latarjet procedure. Statistical analysis was performed by use of SPSS.
RESULTS: Our review found 36 studies including 2134 cases meeting our inclusion criteria. The majority of patients were male (86.9%), with a mean age of 25.4 years (range, 15-59 years) and a mean follow-up of 83.5 months. The overall rate of return to play was 88.8%, with 72.6% returning to the same level of play. Among collision athletes, the overall rate of return to play was 88.2%, with 69.5% returning to the same level of play. In overhead athletes, the overall rate of return to play was 90.3%, with 80.6% returning to the same level of play. The mean time to return to play was 5.8 months (range, 3.2-8 months). Specific return to play criteria were reported in the majority of the studies (69.4%); time to return to sport was the most commonly reported item (66.7%).
CONCLUSION: The overall rate of return to play was reportedly high after the Latarjet procedure. However, almost a fifth of athletes returning to sports were not able to return at the same level. Further development of validated criteria for safe return to sports could potentially improve clinical outcomes and reduce recurrence rates.
Our patients are often told a different story, with 'guarantee' of returning to sport. It is clear that this is not the case!